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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Free Football Broadcasts Retained for New Season

The state-owned television station RTR-Sport and pay-TV station NTV-Plus on Sunday hammered out a compromise deal on broadcasting rights for the 2007 Premier League season, Interfax reported.

In a statement released Sunday, NTV-Plus general director Dmitry Samokhin said regular season games this year would continue to be shown on Channel One, RTR-Sport and regional stations, as they were in 2006.

Samokhin noted, however, that the contract between NTV-Plus and the Premier League remained in force.

The controversy erupted last Tuesday, when the Premier League announced that NTV-Plus had bought the television rights to regular-season games in a four-year deal reportedly worth $100 million.

The following day, President Vladimir Putin criticized the deal and assigned First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to find a solution. The president said the deal would "deprive us, the average fans, of the chance to watch football for free."

Medvedev is chairman of Gazprom, which effectively controls NTV-Plus through the Gazprom-Media holding.

On Friday, Medvedev said Premier League matches would continue to be broadcast on state-owned television this year, Interfax reported.

"As for the assignment the president gave me, I want to inform Russian fans that a meeting has taken place with the heads of NTV-Plus and RTR-Sport," Medvedev said Friday. "During these consultations it was decided that for the duration of this season, free broadcasts of football matches would be retained, just as was done last year."

Samokhin of NTV-Plus said Sunday: "Our contract with the Premier League remains in force. ... We are investing a significant sum into the development of Russian football and taking television broadcasts to a new level."